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BYU Vs. UAB: Independence Bowl Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Dec 17, 2021, 11:29 PM
BYU UAB - Independence Bowl Helmets...
BYU/UAB helmets on display for 2021 Independence Bowl matchup. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

SHREVEPORT, La. – The day has finally arrived for BYU vs UAB at the 2021 Independence Bowl.

It’s the first time these two programs have ever squared off against one another on the gridiron.

BYU comes into the game with a 10-2 record and ranked No. 12 in the latest AP Top 25 and No. 13 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. UAB is unranked at 8-4 and the third-place team out of Conference-USA.

No. 13 BYU vs. UAB

2021 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: ABC

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM — Extended pregame show begins at 9 a.m.)

Now it’s time for the 3-2-1 Game Day preview for today’s Independence Bowl matchup.

Three Gameday Thoughts

1. This is the most challenging BYU game to predict this season

Bowl games are challenging to pick. When there are questions about the motivation for a team, it can be difficult to project how a game will play out. That’s the case for this Independence Bowl. BYU is a better team than UAB and the Cougars would probably be a heavy favorite if this game were played in October.

But in bowl games, especially one that wasn’t the desired destination for BYU, it makes forecasting this game a tricky proposition.

UAB has a good defense. One of the best defenses BYU has faced since going up against Washington State back in October. In addition, the Blazers’ defense might have the best athleticism BYU will have faced since going up against Big 12 Champion Baylor.

UAB wants to be in this game. Since they brought their football program back after shutting down due to financial issues, UAB hasn’t had a neutral site stage like this one that will be televised on network tv. They want this game. Does BYU want it? We will find out soon enough.

2. Tyler Allgeier is knocking on the door of history

BYU’s fourth-year star running back will have a tough decision regarding his future after the bowl game. But that’s down the road. Allgeier has a chance to climb the record books in BYU football history.

BYU’s star running back enters today’s game 174 yards away from setting the single-season rushing yardage record in Cougar Football history. Allgeier is at 1,409 yards on the year with 20 touchdowns, tied for the most rushing TDs this season.

If Allgeier runs for at least 113 yards, he will move into fifth all-time career rushers in BYU football history. With inclement weather expected, BYU needs to feed the rock early and often to Allgeier.

3. BYU can’t break

UAB is likely coming into this game with a plan to keep the ball away from BYU. The Blazers offense is a ball-control attack that focuses on handing the rock off to star running back DeWayne McBride. McBride will be available for the first time since November 23 against UTEP.

BYU’s defense knows they need to stop the run. But everyone who has watched BYU this year knows this Cougar defense is suspect to giving up long, methodical drives. So if they do that, it’s okay. They are known to bend, but they can’t break.

If UAB puts together a long drive, BYU needs to hold the Blazers to a field goal or force them into a situation to make a mistake.

Two BYU vs. UAB Questions

1. How many plays will BYU’s offense run?

Plays will be limited in this game as UAB is expected to play keep away. BYU’s offense has to capitalize with points whenever they get the ball, as they might go long stretches without a possession. UAB has one of the nation’s best rush defenses as they rank 11th. But they haven’t faced a ground attack like BYU’s since they took on Georgia in September.

2. Does the outcome of this game define the legacy of the 2021 season?

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake has said this week that he isn’t worried about the game’s outcome. Instead, he wants to see his team play at their best. That’s fine and all, but if BYU loses, it will be a sour ending to what has been one of the best seasons in BYU football history.

This season’s strength of BYU’s schedule put this group among the all-time great teams. But a loss in the Independence Bowl would taint that legacy. Getting that 11th win, however it comes, would be an exclamation point on a gritty, hard-fought, and memorable season for BYU.

One Score Prediction

This game is going to come down to the wire. I’ve bounced back and forth with my predictions in this game. The letdown factor is a real possibility in this spot, so expect UAB to be competitive in this one.

I’m calling for BYU’s defense to be the difference, as they will need to force some takeaways to set up the Cougar offense in a favorable field position. It won’t come easy, but BYU digs deep to cap their 2021 season with an 11th victory.

BYU 26, UAB 23

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Vs. UAB: Independence Bowl Day Preview Plus Score Prediction